Zizek on Deleuze & Lacan: On Two Versions of Substance: Retroactive Causation

This retroactivity, the idea that a thing is nothing but its own deviation or excess, can be read in two ways, Deleuzian and Lacanian. In the Deleuzian reading of Spinoza, Substance is nothing but the constant process of “falling” (into its determinate, particular modes); everything there is is a fall (if we are permitted to read the famous proposition from Wittgenstein’s Tractatus—Die Welt ist alles, was der Fall ist —more literally than he meant it, discerning in der Fall also the meaning “fall”). There is no Substance which falls, curves, interrupts the flow, etc.; Substance simply is the infinitely productive capacity of such falls, they are its only reality. On such a reading of Spinoza, Substance and the clinamen (the curvature of the Substance which generates determinate entities) directly coincide; in this ultimate speculative identity, Substance is nothing but the process of its own “fall,” the negativity that pushes it towards productive determination. The difference between Spinoza and Hegel is crucial here: while for Spinoza Substance remains a stable and peaceful immanent frame of the incessant movement of its modes, a frame that can be envisaged in a blissful intuition, for Hegel, the Substance that engenders its modes is in itself antagonistic, “barred,” marked by an irreducible inner tension— it is this immanent “contradiction” that pushes the Substance towards the continuous generation of its particular modes. In short, the move from Spinoza to Hegel is the move from S to $, from Substance to Subject.

Zizek, Slavoj (2014-10-07). Absolute Recoil: Towards A New Foundation Of Dialectical Materialism (pp. 386-387). Verso Books. Kindle Edition.

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